Humans have a wonderful list of rules to live by. You call it the 10 commandments, and it includes simple life lessons like “Don’t steal” and “Don’t lie.” They’re just a few basic principles designed to help people live better lives.


And it made me think there should be a list of 10 commandments for dogs. Ten rules that all dogs should follow to ensure a happy, treat-filled life. Just to be clear, these didn’t come from a higher power… they’re just my observations from a fruitful life as a puppy, family member and CEO.

1. Love your owner above all else.

The best thing we dogs can do for our owners is to show them how much we love them. And it’s probably the easiest command to follow because that comes naturally to us! Sometimes that love runs so deep that we can’t live without our Moms and Dads once they’re gone. Remember the story of Hachiko. And for you humans, remember this command when we do something you don’t like… we may have chewed up your slippers or peed in the wrong place… but we love you. Above all else.

2. Always encourage belly rubs.

Belly rubs might be the most mutually beneficial thing in the world. Long experience has taught me that almost nothing delights our humans more than when we lie on our bellies, paws up, and beg for a good rub. It never fails to make everyone happy.

3. Learn at least one trick.

Seriously, this will make your human so happy. It gives them this incredible sense of accomplishment and pride, and every time you raise your paw for a handshake or roll over and play dead, you not only bring a smile to their face but you dramatically increase your odds of getting a reward. That goes double if you perform your trick in front of guests.

4. Always trust your instincts.

In the course your life, your human will bring many friends and acquaintances home to meet you. And you’re going to like some of these new faces and dislike others. But you should always trust your instincts, because sometimes you’ll be able to read people better than your Mom or Dad can read them. And most times you’ll know what’s best for your human… because, you know, commandment #1.

5. When you’ve been bad, don’t hide your guilt.

Learn from the all-time king of guilty dogs, Denver. Whether you’ve just eaten the family’s dinner or you destroyed the couch, if you’re caught, the best thing you can do is look as guilty as possible. A little wag of the tail, total and abject humility in your eyes, ears flat… you know the routine. Trust me. It works.

6.  Watch your whine.

This is a tricky one, because the pout, the whine and the puppy eyes are every dog’s best tricks to get what they want. I get that. But there is such a thing as overdoing it. The correct amount of whining will do wonders for you, but if you whine every time you want attention or a treat or a walk, even the most loving owner will eventually get tired of it.

7. Covet thy whole family.

The bond between an owner and his or her dog is something special. Nothing and no one replaces that. But your duty as a dog isn’t just to love your master (or mistress). It extends to the whole family… and particularly the newest members of a family.

8. Always be ridiculously happy when they come home.

This comes naturally to most of us, but it bears stating on my list of commandments because it’s one of the reasons humans love coming home after a long day at work. The almost comically enthusiastic greeting they get from us simply makes the day’s stress melt away… if only for a few minutes. And it makes for some of the best bonding time you’ll have.

9.  Protect at all costs.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a toy poodle or a saint bernard. Never forget that your unofficial duty is to be your owner’s (and family’s) guardian at all times. If anyone you love is in threat, go into Cujo mode.

10.  Have fun.

We’re not here for that long. Maybe 15 years or so? Our humans will miss us terribly when we’re gone, so enjoy each and every day that you have with them. Don’t be afraid to act silly, love unconditionally, run freely and wag that tail whenever you’re happy.

Those are my 10 commandments for dogs. They’ve served me well! I hope they help you too.